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Sean Farrell thought he was going to be a professional baseball player. In fact, he was drafted by a major league team. After an injury prematurely ended his ball-playing career, Sean jumped into business. He became proficient at sales and felt a similar excitement closing deals as he had hitting homeruns. He joined Quality Data Systems, a business his father, Joe, had started years ago. Sean eventually earned the spot of CEO. They serve financial institutions, but in 2008-2010 banking faced huge challenges and QDS struggled. Sean did not complain, instead he took a different approach that led to tripling his business, all with integrity.
Focus On Problems You Solve
When Sean joined the company, the business was already doing several million dollars of revenue. While sales were recovering after the great recession, it was a year that the majority of the revenue came through their dealer network instead of direct sales which drove QDS to analyze and change. Sean said, “Early, we were reactive to customer requests. If they raised a need, we would adapt to meet that need. It seemed to make sense.” The challenge with this approach is that while they were adaptive to customer requests, they were not establishing expertise in focused areas. While business was coming it, it did not fit into discrete business areas that would drive future, strategic growth. I first met Sean and his team when he asked for my help with their sales approach in 2014 as they were attempting to drive a more consistent sales foundation instead of focusing on product training.
Over the past couple of years, Sean has focused on three initiatives that have driven substantial growth at QDS:
1) Direct Sales: QDS knew that if it wanted to grow and effectively cover the territory it was in, it needed to better leverage its direct sales force. While the dealer network had been a key revenue driver in 2014, improving the direct sales team would lead to more profitable growth. Doubling the size of their direct sales team brought challenges. QDS needed an approach that would align with their strategic goals of increasing value.
2) Narrowed Focus: Instead of reacting to every request customers might make (which lead to broad rather than sharp focus), Sean narrowed their focus to key areas where they could uniquely deliver the highest value to customers; and
3) Sales Training: Sean invested in training for their sales professionals following an integrity-based approach to ensure they only sell in situations where they can deliver exceptional results.
Not Without Hurdles
At one point, QDS lost their largest client to a merger, which could devastate most companies. But by staying consistent with their new approach to business development, QDS replaced 100% of that recurring revenue within eight months, something Sean is very proud of. Though the client they lost was a large client, the new clients who replaced that revenue placed a high value in the expertise and value that QDS delivers. And, QDS’s client portfolio is more diverse than it was in the past.
Results Speak For Themselves
Sean made some major shifts that caused their business to triple in revenue since he first got involved, and could reach four times their original value by the end of this year. In the past year, direct sales have more than doubled, and net profit has grown by 250%. During all of this, they will not compromise on integrity. One of their clients was seeking a solution that the client anticipated was going to cost over $100,000. When QDS realized they could solve their client’s issue for less than $10,000, the client was thrilled. Whereas many companies might have padded their prices to raise the cost to the customer, QDS built greater trust with the customer. Farrell adds, “Anyone can talk about trust and looking out for the best interest of the customer. When you don’t just talk about it, but show it, you build value that goes beyond a transaction. That client knows that we will consistently work in their best interest, and they are OK if we are not the cheapest alternative.”
Value Trumps Price
Any company can talk about delivering value for its customers. Years ago, QDS positioned itself as less expensive alternative to more recognized brands. This meant they would often deal with customers solely focused on price. They realized that this was not a sustainable model. Farrell studied the work of Marcus Sheridan of TheSalesLion.com. Quickly, Sean recognized that delivering value and establishing expertise would mean intentionally giving away information and addressing issues others in the industry would try to hide. They have seen this translate to a great level of trust from their customers. QDS consistently creates content on their website to address the biggest issues their financial customers face. They have rapidly become known as a great resource for finding answers to operational and money-handling challenges banks, credit unions, and those who handle cash often face. Whether an institution needs products, services, or just innovative thinking, QDS is growing and poised to continue expanding its geographic footprint within the Southeast United States and beyond. You might say he’s hitting home runs every day, just not on a baseball diamond.
Put This To Work
You can follow the same steps as Sean Farrell and QDS:
- Focus where you add the most value;
- Become the trusted resource to address the most important issues in your industry;
- Follow a process for integrity-based selling.
During a recent interview with Sean, he shares insight about what QDS was doing prior to, and what they’ve been doing since, implementing this new way of doing business. Plus he gives a real-life example of what integrity-based sales really means. If you’ve been considering updating your approach for your organization, discover the valuable insight Sean has to share about Tripling Your Bottom Line with Integrity-Based Sales.
It’s Your Turn
What other companies have you seen take this approach and achieve great success as a result?